Residents concerned about safety after rise in ‘out of control’ behavior on Intracoastal Waterway

Grand Strand

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Residents are concerned about safety after a rise in “out of control” behavior on the Intracoastal Waterway.

A South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) representative, Coast Guard officials, and Representative William Bailey met in North Myrtle Beach to hear from community members about issues they’re seeing on the water.

“We’ve all seen the behavior on the waterway and it’s out of control,” Bailey said.

Boat owners, local businesses, fishermen, jet ski rental companies, and those who live along the Intracoastal Waterway all expressed the problems they’re seeing. Some residents say the jet skis drive too recklessly around boats, causing wakes and pushing water onto peoples’ properties.

“There’s no respect,” said Benjy Hardee, a resident along the waterway. “You’re not going to educate these people, they don’t have any respect. They come off the island drinking — drunk — you got people riding with jet skis five feet from your dock every single day. I live there 365 days a year — there’s fishing boats without courtesy — I could go on and on. Bottom line, it’s a safety issue.”

Many shared the same concern of it being overcrowded on the waterway in the Little River area.

“As long as the weather is nice, we see a lot of traffic, both recreational folks, tourists coming in, renting boats or jet skis or what not, and just our recreational boating fleet,” said Michael Paul Thomas, a captain with the SCDNR.

With the increase of activity comes those concerns of reckless jet ski driving, wakes being caused, and visitors not knowing the laws. That’s why Bailey said he wanted to hold this meeting to hear solutions from people who are on the water everyday.

“The bottom line here is safety,” Hardee said. “We’re in a small ditch, it clearly needs to be a no wake zone in certain areas of this waterway.”

“It’s all about education, setting some standards for the rental industry, just like we have for our captain licenses,” said Keith Logan, a fishing boat captain.

A no wake zone was proposed as one solution, along with having more SCDNR officials monitoring it. Bailey said this meeting was just to hear about the issues and he said they’ll hold a meeting in the future to talk about those solutions.

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